Twenty-seven members and
guests attended the 2016 Annual Gathering which
was centered near Kendall, Cumbria at the Shap Wells
A Personal Reflection on
the Annual Gathering September 2016
“Gentlemen. We have not
the metal for them, retreat.”
Marquis of Tullibardine,
after coming under fire from Hanoverian guns during
the commencement of the Jacobite siege of Carlisle.
Shap Wells Hotel, near Kendal in
Cumbria was the
of the Annual Gathering of The 1745 Association
from Thursday, September 1 to Sunday, September 4,
was probably because of the hotel’s remote position
that it was used as a prisoner of war camp for German
officers during World War II. Situated in an area of
outstanding natural beauty, it certainly provided members
with excellent accommodation at a very reasonable outlay.
The staff of the hotel were welcoming and friendly,
the cuisine on offer first rate, and the service very
efficient. The 1745
Association wishes to convey
thanks to all who assisted with our comfort and welfare,
it was very much appreciated.
Regrettably, the attendance
was disappointingly low this year with 27 members and
guests participating, either for the whole or part of
the programme. However, as with all Gatherings, this
was more than made up by renewing afresh, old friendships
and endeavouring to make new attendees welcome. This
social interaction always assists in making any Gathering
Our Gathering this year was
organised by Michael Cook and Janet Niepokojllzcka.
A very fine docket of information for the days ahead
was produced and given to each member after dinner on
our first evening together. They both must take a considerable
amount of credit in making this a very stimulating event,
we therefore, wholeheartedly thank both Michael
and Janet for their noble efforts.
Evening (Thursday September
Following a most satisfactory
dinner, we were given a talk by the infectiously enthusiastic
Paul MacDonald, Armourer of Clan Donald and an accomplished
swordsman in his own right. Paul has recently joined
the Association and expressed his delight at being invited
to speak to us. As an introduction, Paul talked about
the progression of
sword making throughout the centuries
ranging from bronze to iron to steel, and brought to
life how these swords were produced, before then concentrating
on the basket-hilted broadswords of the 18th
century, explaining the differences between “backswords”
(one cutting edge) and “double edged swords” (two cutting
edges) He also dispelled many of the myths that these
weapons are heavy, and the way Hollywood depicted their
use in films
His demonstration of sword
play was particularly enjoyed by members, and his prowess
at sword making was demonstrated by his reproduction
of “Big” Duncan MacKenzie’s weapon, including the damage
done when striking though the helmet and head of a Hanoverian
soldier at Prestonpans! But the undoubted “star of the
show” was the actual sword belonging to the infamous
Rob Roy McGregor. I confess a certain thrill at being
able to hold this, surprisingly light, double edged
weapon. While a thing of beauty in many ways, a lethal
tool none the less. Paul was at pains to emphasise that
swords were just that, “tools of the trade.” I have
ordered a replica of this weapon from Paul, and I am
greatly looking forward to hanging it in my hallway.
My pen could easily get carried
away on this subject, but suffice to say we thank Paul
for his talk and very much hope to see him at many Gatherings
in the future.
Day One (Friday September 2)
The ancient city of
was to be our first destination, and we boarded the
coach in eager anticipation. Carlisle’s history is fascinating.
It commenced life as a Roman settlement, established
to serve the forts and mile castles along the length
of Hadrian’s Wall. Because of its close proximity to
what was still the Kingdom of Scotland, Carlisle became
a significant military city.
With the Union of Crowns in
1603, it was thought that Carlisle would become just
another frontier city, but, of course, the two kingdoms
of England and Scotland remained separate. There was
much fighting in and around Carlisle during the English
Civil War and the city changed hands several times between
the Royalist and Parliamentary forces. The Act of Union
in 1707 meant that it was now no longer a frontier city,
but it did remain a garrison.
Returning to our coach journey,
when entering the suburbs of the city, particularly
the Brunton Park area, one could not but fail to observe
the devastation the severe floods that had hit Cumbria
earlier in the year had caused, with many properties
remaining unoccupied, with skips and other detritus
Our first visit was to Carlisle
Cathedral where we had a most interesting tour,
guided by Canon Weston. The Cathedral is the second
smallest, after Oxford, of all English Cathedrals. It
was founded initially as an Augustinian Priory, becoming
a Cathedral in 1133. The building itself can be best
described as Norman Gothic. One its main architectural
features is the east window. The tracing of this window
is in English Gothic style and is most complex, with
its flowering decorated Gothic design. The window measures
some 51 feet by 26 feet and is the largest in England,
it still contains much of the original glass.
The Cathedral was also the
location where that great Scottish author Sir Walter
Scott was married, a little known fact I would suggest.
Canon Weston explained to us
that during the English Civil War, part of the nave
of the Cathedral was demolished by the Scottish Presbyterian
Army, the stone to be used to bolster the defences of
The main reason for our visit
was, of course, the taking of the city by Jacobite forces
in November 1745. It was at this point we were told
that Rose Castle, situated about five miles north of
the city, and the residence of the Bishops of Carlisle,
had often been attacked by Scottish raiders, and it
was one of the first buildings to be taken by the Jacobite
Army in 1745.
A significant tale often told,
is the taking of Rose Castle by Captain Donald og MacDonald
of Kinlochmoidart where he interrupted a baptism, however,
he ordered his soldiers to wait until its conclusion.
He then apparently placed the white cockade from his
bonnet, alongside the sleeping baby, in an attempt to
give her some protection. It was at this point, that
a stimulating debate took place between members and
Canon Weston, as to whether it had been had actually
been Kinlochmoidart himself, for he was still in Edinburgh
as a “guest” of Government authorities on the dates
specified. Following much discussion and frantic researching
on “tablets” it was decided it may have been MacDonald
of Tirnadris and not Kinlochmoidart, who was in fact
the Scottish gentleman involved in this particular incident.
Our knowledge is enhanced every day is it not?
Our visit concluded with Canon
Weston showing us the two cramped bays within the nave
of the Cathedral, where Jacobite prisoners were held,
following the surrender of Carlisle to the Duke of Cumberland
on December 30 1745.
Feeling much stimulated, and
having thanked Canon Weston, we left the Cathedral and
walked over to the nearby Market Cross, where James
VIII/III was declared king. The cross actually stands
in front of the Town Hall, where Jacobite prisoners
were tried and sentenced, a sobering thought indeed.
Having paid our respects at the cross we were taken
over to the current Marks and Spencer building, which
was the original site of Highmore House, where Charles
Edward Stuart and the Duke of Cumberland both lodged
(but not at the same time of course!) when in the city.
Our next port of call was to
Tullie House Museum, situated next to the Cathedral.
During the Jacobite occupation of Carlisle Tullie house
was the residence of Sir John Arbuthnot, who had been
appointed Governor of Carlisle by Charles Edward Stuart.
Upon arrival we were shown into the Lecture Theatre,
where we were given an interesting history of the city
during the Jacobite stay, by the Curator Mr John Bonner
and what occurred at the trials of the Jacobite prisoners,
following the Duke of Cumberland’s retaking of the city.
John indeed showed to us the note book of one of the
trial judges John initially on screen, but he surprised
us by producing the actual document, which we viewed
later in the museum itself, together with several other
The thing that struck home
the most, I believe, when studying this notebook, was
the brevity of the judge’s notes on each individual’s
trial, just a matter of a few scribbled lines. How cheap
these men’s lives appeared, ending either in death or
deportation. Summary justice indeed.
On that happy note we made
our way to the restaurant for a lunch of soup and sandwiches.
Many of these fine sandwiches remained uneaten, perhaps
a reflection on what had been heard earlier, certainly
the notebook did not stimulate my own appetite.
Following lunch, a short walk
took us to the 900 year old
Carlisle Castle, currently managed by English
Heritage and open to the public. The castle was, until
quite recently, the administrative headquarters of the
former King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and now county
headquarters to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and
a museum to that regiment was situated within the castle
walls. (Unfortunately, due to lack of time we were unable
to visit the museum)
The curator, Stuart Eastwood
met us at De Ireby’s tower, the entrance to the castle.
As with all guides he was a fountain of knowledge, giving
a brief history of the building. Carlisle castle was
first built during the reign of William II, son of the
Conqueror. At that time Cumberland was considered to
be part of Scotland. In 1122, Henry I of England, ordered
the original wood and earth motte and bailey castle
to be replaced with a stone structure. The existing
keep dates from around 1135. Because of the constant
threat from the Scots, the castle would change hands
for the next 700 years. Interestingly, Mary Queen of
Scots was imprisoned in the Warden’s Tower for a short
period, before being taken south to her eventual fate.
From a Jacobite perspective,
the sieges of 1745 were the most interesting, with both
the castle and the city changing hands between the Jacobites
and the Hanoverians. Once the Duke of Cumberland had
regained control, many Jacobites were held prisoner
here, indeed 31 were executed in Carlisle for their
part in the Rising.
The retaking of the castle
in December 1745, marked the end of the castle’s fighting
life, for now Scotland and England were Great Britain
once more. The castle became somewhat neglected after
this, and some parts were demolished for use as raw
material in the 19th century, to leave the
castle more or less how it looks now.
Stuart Eastwood showed us many
interesting features of the building, but it was the
dungeon, where Jacobite prisoners were incarcerated,
that concentrated the mind. Crowded together in appalling
conditions that are hard to imagine, men, women and
even children were corralled together. The deprivation
was so bad that the walls were used to try and get a
little water. The “licking stones” are still to be seen
in the corner of the cell.
It was in this sombre place
that Stuart Eastwood informed us that it was possibly
here that the song “Loch Lomond” was composed, by those
who took “the high road” to execution and death and
those who lived taking “the low road,” back to Scotland.
A poignant and evocative moment to end our tour.
We returned to the Shap Wells
hotel for dinner after a stimulating and thought provoking
day, and what turned out to be a surprisingly lively
Day Two (Saturday September
It was a “dreich auld day”
that greeted us, the rain falling heavily, which it
did all day unfortunately. However, we Jacobites are
made of strong stuff and it did not dampen our spirits.
We were on our way to what
turned out to be the delightful market town of
Kendal and we were royally entertained by Janet
in her capacity as guide for the day. She pointed out
various landmarks, including the old drovers road that
the armies of both Stuart and Cumberland used in 1745,
one in pursuit of the other. Janet commented that had
the Jacobite army used pack horses instead of carts,
progress could have been much quicker, as these fleet-footed
animals could sense any unseen obstacles and negotiate
around them. As she had used a pack horse on a recent
trek through Lakeland, she knew what she was talking
about. There are some fascinating folk in
As this was to be a walking
tour of the town, we were met by two members of the
Kendal Civic Society, one of whom had recently been
mayor. Both were lively characters and gave us much
information with great humour. It was explained that
the town lies in a valley or dale of the river Kent,
thus “Kent Dale” or Kendal. Apparently, the third largest
settlement in Cumbria, behind Carlisle and Barrow in
The town itself is structured
around a high street, with fortified alleyways known
as “yards” on either side, these “yards” allowed the
local population to shelter from the Anglo-Scottish
raiding parties, the notorious “Border Reivers” of the
During the withdrawal from
Derby, the Jacobites came through Kendal, and our guides
gave an interesting account of a fracas that occurred
in the High Street. Apparently, one of the town worthies
took exception to this motley army coming through his
town and attacked a Jacobite soldier, bad mistake, and
a “stramash” broke out with injuries on both sides.
A mid-morning coffee break
at the aptly named
Charlie’s Café, gave us shelter
from the pouring rain. This building was actually used
by Charles Edward Stuart as a temporary lodging, but
alas, no one seemed to know the actual room in which
he slept. Needless to say William Augustus was accommodated
in the lodgings later, but again it is not known if
he used the same room.
The most exciting moment we
had, was when one of the guides produced a small oblong
box. Inside the aforementioned box was a piece of tartan,
with a paper inscription on the inside of the lid. “Piece
of plaid given to Mrs Graham of Ellerton Grange, by
Charles Edward Stuart, 1746.” Apparently, Mrs Graham
was one of his ancestors and the box has been handed
down through the family. In an effort to verify its
authenticity it had been sent to Newcastle University
for analysis, and the results showed it was probably
genuine. The owner of the priceless artefact made sure
he received it back, after passing it around the group!
After taking leave of our guides,
we walked to
Kendal Museum, one of the oldest in the country,
with many exhibits and artefacts, including a Highlander’s
purse, left behind following the High Street skirmish.
It is said that a “wee bawbie” was found inside, surely
that cannot be true!
Lunch was taken at the
Riverside Hotel, before boarding the coach to the
Clifton, the location for the
on English soil. On December 18 1745, Lord George Murray,
who was in command of the Jacobite rear guard, set what
was effectively an ambush. The MacDonells of Glengarry,
poured flanking fire into the advancing Hanoverian regiments
of Bland, Cobham and Mark Kerr, which were mostly cavalry.
This took place just south of the village and Murray
had deployed his men on the western side of the road.
The Appin Regiment with the MacPhersons were placed
on the other side of the road, facing the enemy. John
Roy Stuart’s Edinburgh Regiment was in the village itself.
Following a lengthy action a Jacobite victory ensued,
and it helped delay the advance of Cumberland’s forces,
allowing the Jacobites to eventually cross the border
back into Scotland. Thirteen MacPhersons were killed
as well as ten Redcoats.
We walked to the so-called
“Rebel Tree” (I much prefer Patriot) primarily to commemorate
the Jacobite dead, but the Hanoverian fallen were given
the same privilege.
We had previously visited the
medieval parish Church of
Clifton, where we met up with
John Nicholls MBE and his wife Elizabeth.
John was to lay a wreath on behalf of “The
Fifteen; The Northumbrian Jacobite Society,”as
President of that august body.
A most dignified ceremony was
conducted by the Reverend Robert Harley, under
the trees, which concluded with the lament “The Floo’ers
o’ the Forrest,” sung by Brian Whiting, a few moments
of silent reflection followed. The sound of the rain,
dripping down from the branches, enhanced a very moving
moment. Wreaths were then laid under the “Rebel Tree”
by Glen MacDonald on behalf of the 1745
Association and John Nichols MBE.
On return to the hotel, we
prepared ourselves for the formal Annual Dinner of the
At the conclusion of the meal,
our guest speaker, John Nicholls MBE, gave a wonderfully
witty and humorous speech, but also including a serious
theme inasmuch he emphasised the part that Northumbrian
Jacobites played in the Risings. Whilst the ’45 is perhaps
the best remembered, we should never forget the
brothers and the many others who fought in the ’15.
We were then entertained by
Philip Gruar on the Northumbrian small pipes,
in honour of our guests. Philip played wonderfully well
in my opinion and he concluded his recital by playing
and singing, “Derwentwater’s Farewell,” a song that
always moves me greatly.
As it has now become something
of a tradition, those of us with the stamina, retired
to the bar and sang Jacobite songs. An added bonus,
was the fact that the young barman Tom Skelhorn,
could play the Highland pipes and he give us a quick
rendition of Scottish tunes, very good he was too.
On Sunday morning, members
dispersed to various parts of the world, with the promise
of another Gathering to come in 2017. The location—London.
Brian A. Whiting,